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office in 1848, when Bolton wrote his history of the county, disappeared subsequently, and could not be found in 1872, when Baird wrote a history of that town. He says:

It was reported that the book was taken by a person to suppress certain records which would prove adverse to claims that he had set up in some litigation. Nothing was known to a certainty, but the house of this individual has since been destroyed by fire.

He then points out specific disputes over rights and easements which can not be definitely settled, because the grants were all in this lost volume. Another correspondent, of White Plains, in the same county, has given information that the earliest town minutes of White Plains are imperfect, mutilated, frayed, and otherwise in bad shape. He also adds: "Valuable records belonging to the county of Westchester are in the cellar of the courthouse unprotected," and speaks of others that "are in an unclassified shape in the basement of the Carnegie Library, not a fireproof structure."

Almost all of the local records of the town of Manlius, one of the oldest settled towns of Onondaga County, were lost in a conflagration about 1890;1 all the early records of the town of Marcellus, in the same county, were lost by fire about 1830, and those of the town of Van Buren were in part lost by fire in 1861, and this town deliberately burned up another large mass in 1894.3 The village records of Onondaga County are kept in the local fire-department houses or lockups, usually of frame construction, and fire has wrought havoc among these records.

Prof. Osgood said of the records of the former town of Bushwick, Long Island, that "no trace has been found, though the opinion is expressed that some of them are still in existence." I learned last spring from a correspondent that they are in the Long Island Historical Society, and extend from 1660 to the American Revolution. Liber 13 of conveyances of New York City (1683 to 1687), and Liber 18 (1687 to 1694) have disappeared since 1900 from the register's office. This act in the tragedy is almost a farce, but I believe the volumes are now in the possession of a historical society, having been secured quite recently. The organization of a "Hall of Records Association" in New York City, by members of the Bar Association, Real Estate Exchange, Board of Trade and Transportation, and others, has brought to fruition the stately new "Hall of Records" in this city. Just a year ago there was considerable agitation on the part of the Bar Association of the city of New York in relation to the delay in centralizing the scattered records in the new building. A few years ago truck loads of the mayor's records were taken out of a dungeon in the City Hall and sent to the Lenox

1 Osgood's Report, p. 154.

2 Ibid., p. 155.

Ibid., p. 159.

Library Building for sorting and elimination. They were about as filthy a jumble as the eye ever rested on; yet, they represent the most valuable materials of the city's administration for about half a century. Among this miscellaneous jumble was easily found, after classification, what is, perhaps, the most important document attesting the city's rights in the so-called "Eleventh Avenue Tracks case a matter that has been agitating the people and the legislature for years. The original records of the town of Harlem were secured by a title company of New York City and transferred to a second party so as to avoid inquirers. Few local records in the State would have as great value to litigants and as great interest to historians as these; yet, they are held in private ownership and are inaccessible for public or scholarly uses. Quite too many of our official records and historical sources are buried away by the title companies of the State.

Again, recently the county clerk of Niagara County refused or neglected to turn over to his successor mortgage-tax records, and it was only after the State board of tax commissioners threatened him. with mandamus proceedings that he finally gave them up. Our informant, who has also pointed out the meagerness of the town records of Hurley, New Paltz, and other places in Ulster County, wrote:

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I have often noticed the carelessness existing in country towns about keeping records. Few town clerks are provided with safes in which to preserve town records. Instead of a town hall the town officers are allowed to keep town records in their own private houses, and very often when they go out of office they neglect or refuse to turn over these records to their successors. I have known of instances [he says] where newly elected officers have had to make repeated demands upon their predecessors in office to obtain town records. If you can create a sentiment among the people that will properly safeguard local records, rich in historical association, you will do something the whole State will some day thank you most heartily for.

Now, I am happy to report to this conference of archivists that the promotion of this line of work has been uppermost in my mind from the day that I entered upon the office of State historian of New York. I immediately began to draft a bill for amending the law relating to the powers and duties of the State historian, and this bill added provisions with reference to the public records throughout the State. The history of the inception, progress, and failure of this legislation has been written and will be printed in the next volume of Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association. This bill was antagonized by the commissioner of education, who demanded a hearing, which was granted. The bill was amended and passed the assembly with only one dissenting vote. In addition to the provi

1 This address on "The Executive Relation of New York State to Historical Scholarship " has since been printed in Proceedings of New York State Historical Association, vol. IX, (1910), pp. 199 fr.

sions for reorganizing the office, two sections relative to records were in the bill as passed in assembly, viz:

SEC. 92. The State historian may communicate with State and local officers of this State who are entrusted by law with the care or custody of any books, records, documents, or materials of historic value, for the purpose of ascertaining the character and condition of such materials of historic value. He may visit any public office in the State, and shall have access at all reasonable times to any such materials as may be therein; and he is authorized to index, calendar, or have photographed any such materials, subject to such arrangements as may be made with the approval of the said State and local officers.

SEC. 93. No State or local officer shall destroy, sell, or otherwise dispose of any records, original or copied, or of any archives in his care or custody or under his control, and which are no longer in current use, without first having advised the State historian of their nature.

This bill never got out of the senate committee to which it had been referred. Instead thereof a complete substitution was made of a bill which had as its sole object the abolition of the State historian as an independent executive in the administrative government and his subordination under the commissioner of education. Every provision as to public records, methods of publication, etc., was gone. The assembly defeated this substitute by 68 to 25 votes when returned for concurrence in the so-called amendments. The defeat of our original measure in behalf of the public records-mute witnesses of our past history and our present prosperity-may be characterized as the severest tragical blow to New York's public records.




Assistant Professor in the University of Illinois,



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